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The Easter Transformation

      As a catechism teacher every Sunday for younger grades I get to amaze them with some of the basic things of our faith. For example they are always amazed and excited to know that Easter is not just a one day celebration but is actually 50 days. Normally they are excited when they hear that and ask why they do not get chocolate every single day for those fifty days. So this becomes a great moment to teach them that however unfortunate it is we do not get chocolate for fifty days in a row, (although I for one strongly believe we should make this a practice :) ) we have something much greater to be happy about-that Jesus is truly risen! That Easter is much more than the mere chocolate we eat, and that it is a joyful time because of the many transformations that take place in these times.

     Todays Gospel from Luke immediately follows the well known passage of the road to Emmaus. In fact, the disciples are just arriving back to Jerusalem to tell the eleven about the amazing things that had just taken place on their way to Emmaus. Within this joyful moment Jesus comes among them again and reveals himself to all of them. Seeing that they were frightened and in a state of shock, Jesus requests a something to eat to prove that it really is him- the same man who had died on the cross and was buried- that he was indeed alive! Then Jesus opens their minds to understand the great mysterious transformations that have taken place over the last couple of days. Finally, Jesus commissions them to proclaim the repentance and forgiveness of sins- something which they themselves just experienced through the death and Resurrection of Jesus. 

     It is truly an amazing thing that we are given these fifty days to reflect and celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus.  It is an amazement that can diminish as we celebrate it over and over again, but when this happens we are challenged to enter even more deeply into the greatness of this time. Look at the fact that the tomb which was once occupied and was a symbol of our finite nature, was transformed into the empty tomb that now symbolizes life, victory, and conquering. For it is in that empty tomb that we do not find nothing, but rather that we find the true reality that death, sin and our mistakes are not the end. Instead, we know with confidence that Christ, life with our personal creator, and mercy are always triumphant in the end. It is through Christs' transformation of the grave into new life that we should all have confidence in the our belief of life everlasting. 

     It is this risen Christ that can transform us as well.  For we are not always perfect, and we are not always living the life of holiness which we are called to live. But it is precisely these moments where we are not perfect and where we fail to live as God calls us to that Christ transforms us through is grace and forgiveness.   Christ looks upon us and looks at our sin and takes it upon himself on the altar of the cross. There, upon that altar, he sacrifices himself so that the sin may not be final. But there is the necessity of the Resurrection to show that the our sin, our mistakes, our imperfections do not define us. It is rather in the acknowledgement of our sins and in the forgiveness offered by God, that we can truly live as who we are truly are- children of God on a spiritual journey to building a relationship with him. Further, it is only Christ who is able to take our failings and imperfections and transform them, through his grace and forgiveness into new ways of evangelization, to help us grow and to better bear witness to him. 

     It is through this first-hand experience of the transformative forgiveness offered by God, that we too are able to live out the commission that Jesus gave to his disciples in the Gospel. We see in the first reading that Peter is fulfilling that call, by preaching to the people and preaching about the repentance of sins and the importance of turning to God in our lives. Like Peter, we too can preach the love-filled message of forgiveness to everyone in our homes, neighborhood, workplace and city. 

     During these fifty days of Easter, as we reflect on the great transformations that Christ did during the first Easter, may we come to allow ourselves to be transformed but the amazing forgiveness offered by our merciful God. May we come with an open heart, trusting in our personal merciful God, to be transformed so that we may preach to others about this amazing treasure that we as Catholics have. The treasure of new life- that death is not final! May we come to look past our own failings and weaknesses and allow God to use us to preach his message of love, forgiveness and holiness. 

Happy Easter! 

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